THE INDEPENDENT Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) has said that the Sun newspaper misrepresented the results of a poll which saw the tabloid claim that one in five British Muslims supported militant Islamist groups including Daesh.
The paper has now been forced to print a retraction acknowledging that its claims on a front page articles dated November 23 last year were ‘significantly misleading’.
Respondents in the poll had been asked to what extent they had sympathy with “young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria” but did not mention any specific groups by name, and was intentionally left open as to whether Muslims will have gone to fight with or against Daesh, the Assad regime, or other groups in the region.
Only five per cent claimed to have “a lot of sympathy” with such individuals, while a further 14.5 per cent admitted to “some sympathy”, leading to the Sun combining the two to claim nearly one in five British Muslims have sympathy for jihadis. The paper neglected to mention the context of the poll or the fact that under the same interpretation some 13.7 per cent of non-Muslim Brits share the same view, obviously less plausible and not fitting to the paper’s sensationalist agenda.
“While the newspaper was entitled to interpret the poll’s findings, taken in its entirety, the coverage presented as a fact that the poll showed that one in five British Muslims had sympathy for those who left to join Isis and for Isis itself,” Ipso said.
“In fact, neither the question, nor the answers which referred to ‘sympathy’, made reference to [Isis]. The newspaper had failed to take appropriate care in its presentation of the poll results and, as a result, the coverage was significantly misleading.”
The Sun for its part has argued that since the “overwhelming majority” of fighters who left the UK for Syria did so to join Daesh, it’s interpretation was fair.
After the tabloid published its front page the news was seized upon by far-right anti-immigration groups including the English Defence League and the paper was widely criticised for it’s irresponsibility.